Prairie Roots Connect Us

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Once upon a time, this land we live on was
covered in prairie. The people here called
themselves the Peoria, Piankesaw and Wea.
Creeks wound freely across the land. One
little creek was especially fond of dancing
and it glided and skipped across the prairie,
sometimes sweeping up the sandbars and
rocky banks with it, constantly changing its
winding course across the flatlands. One
day, people from Europe began to arrive.
They liked to build square houses and
straight roads. They wanted things their
way and locked the creek into a straight
concrete gutter through their town. Sometimes
it submitted but sometimes the creek
overflowed into their basements and backyards
and they pulled at their hair and tried
new ways to control the creek.
Many years later, an Aussie named Dave
arrived to the town. Dave liked the way
plants danced in the prairies, he recorded
frogs singing, and he sympathized with the
creek because he danced the wiggle-woggle
sometimes too. He took it upon himself to go
talk to people about the way nature dances.
He talked to mayors and construction workers,
little kids and medical students. Often
they looked at him funny but sometimes his
wiggle-woggle stories planted seeds. When
that happened, he would go confide to the
little creek who would dance in spite of the
concrete confines and work a little harder to
convince the concrete to dance too. And so it
went until this day when I am telling you this
story in order to plant wiggle-woggle seeds in
your heads with the hopes that you might go
about dancing your lives differently, caring
less about coloring inside the lines and caring
more about the dances and music inherent in
the land that make our journey unpredictable
but harmonious.
Most of us know this land used to be
prairie and that there are only little bits and
pieces left. Many of us have learned snippets
of the history of this place from the
man mentioned above, Dave Monk. As
steward of some of these little pieces of
remaining ecosystem, he has cast a wide net
in our twin towns; educating, making art,
restoring, and talking with people. As water
shapes its landscape, digging through the
earth, slowly wearing the steadfast stern
stones down, this is the way that Dave has
shaped the landscape of our lives in Champaign-
Urbana. And as water may run
underground unseen by us, like the
Mahomet aquifer dug deep into the ground
beneath us, so too, the work of Dave has not
always been visible. We want to make his
work visible including the networks and
connections that he has made through his
ubiquitous activism and tireless organizing.
We are students in the Graduate School
for Library and Information Science and are
taking the opportunity given us by our
Community Archiving class to work with
Dave. We invite you to tell your own stories
about Dave, to find the connection you have
had to his work, or his projects, or even just
to point out what you have noted from the
consequences of his labor. We are looking
for the traces of Dave, and to trace ourselves
together through our connections with
Dave. This project will naturally escape the
boundaries of allotted time and structure,
but that is part of the beauty of it; that sometimes,
through our efforts at organization
and collection, stories like the one above
emerge. Miriam was inspired to write this
story by Monkisms. Share yours stories,
inspirations, collaborations, and anything
else by emailing or
posting comments on the Prarie Monks facebook
page. We are watcing to see how this
river runs between us and invite you to partake.
Look for future postings about Dave,
his projects, and ours as well here, and on
Dave’s blog:

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